Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Food Fund guidance for local authorities

Guidance for local authorities on the Food Fund which will support those most in need including families with children who are eligible for free school meals, older people, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Food Fund guidance for local authorities
The Food Fund

On 18 March, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government announced a £350 million package to support communities affected by COVID-19.

This includes a £70 million Food Fund to put in place support for those who would otherwise be unable to access food through the usual routes. 

  • £30m of the Food Fund is initially being made available to local authorities for structured public sector responses working with local resilience partnerships to support households who may experience barriers in accessing food. The response will likely need to involve a combination of support to access income and the provision of food. This will be kept under review to ascertain whether additional resource is required.
  • up to £30m has been set aside for a nationally procured programme to deliver food for those who are unable to leave their homes due to being at highest clinical risk, known as the shielded group.
  • £10 million has been set aside for investment in third sector organisations that are responding to food insecurity both at a national and local level

Further investment has been made to complement this, including more than doubling the Scottish Welfare Fund and direct investment in community organisations. Further detail on funding for community groups is available at Annex B, and you can read more information on the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Allocation formulae for £30m of this investment, aimed at Free School Meal provision and non-shielded people at risk, have now been agreed with COSLA for distribution to local authorities. 

Local partners 

In order to reach the people most at risk, action will need to be coordinated by local authorities, usually via local resilience partnerships, and should involve people from all sectors, including community food organisations and local businesses. These sectors are collectively referred to as local partners in this guidance.

Households who may experience barriers in accessing food 

Health barriers 

  • those who are clinically at high risk and are required to stay at home, known as the shielded group
  • those who have COVID-19 symptoms, or live with someone with symptoms, and are required to stay at home temporarily
  • those who are vulnerable and are required to be particularly stringent in following social distancing. This includes people over 70 years old, those with a long-term health condition[1] (including chronic neurological conditions such as a learning disability), people who are pregnant and those who have a weakened immune system – including people who receive the flu jab for medical reasons

Socio-economic barriers

  • those who are financially at risk, including families whose children are eligible for Free School Meals, low income households and those who have recently lost employment.
  • those who are marginalised, may have complex needs and may be less engaged with public services, including people who are homeless, those with substance dependencies, those with existing mental health problems, victims of domestic abuse, refugees, Asylum Seekers, those with No Recourse to Public Funds, Gypsy / Traveller Communities and minority ethnic communities. Thought should also be given to access to transport.

Some households may fall within multiple categories, further advice is provided in Annex A.